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Visual overview and mind mapping

Brief description

Digital tools for visual overview and mind mapping enable the structuring and sharing of knowledge. The tools are very diverse and can be used in many different ways. However, they are often well suited for achieving a shared understanding through the mapping of the knowledge that is already available. Tools are available for making timelines, for instance, and for generating ideas or visualising complex content.


Tools for creating visual overview and mind mapping can often be used in a meaningful way in group work. They can be used for brainstorming activities, the sharing of thoughts and volatile ideas concerning an academic topic, or for creating a shared academic space and seeing the connections between academic concepts, topics or theorists. The tools can also be used to discover data patterns and support the processing and structuring of knowledge.


You can use visual overview and mind mapping in various ways in your teaching. For instance, browse our list of concrete activities and examples of practice in the right margin of this page, or find inspiration in the following brief examples of more general activities.


By using tools for creating timelines, for instance Timeline JS, students can get an overview of important periods or developments in the literature.

Idea generation and brainstorming

Working alone or in groups, students can use the mind mapping tools to process ideas for their written assignments or presentations, for instance. Use for instance Mindmeister or Flashcards and run the exercise Brainwalk for idea generation of exam topics or the students’ problem statements.

Visual Slides

Mind-mapping tools can assist the teacher in communicating clearly to their students concerning the academic material and can create a shared understanding of the topic. You may use them as elements in your slides and presentations.

Reflection exercise

Mind mapping is a good way to categorise or discover connections in academic material. As a teacher, you can prepare a set of concepts and ask your students to create connections between them. E.g. concepts, periods, specialist terms or theorists, which you ask students to place in relation to each other. You may include this as part of your lecture or as activities between sessions.

Academic resource

Mind-mapping tools can create an overview of the curriculum, specialist terminology or academic topics. The students can create a mind map, for instance, based on concepts, theorists or topics to which they can attach key concepts. This will promote the students’ understanding and overview of academic concepts and help them remember the concepts better. This can support them when preparing for exams. Use for instance the tools Flashcards or Mindmeister for this.

Digital tools

If you do not know which tools to use for the different activities, or what the differences are between them, you may read more about tools below:


Padlet is a tool for creating a type of digital noticeboard where the students and teachers can collect material (texts, images, videos) in an aesthetic and easily accessible way. The tool can assist the students in their research phase as it creates an overview of the collected material. 

Mindmeister is a tool for structuring and visualising Mindmapping. The tool can make it easier for the students to create a digital version of their ideas. It is easy to use and appraise.

Timeline JS is a tool for making timelines. The service creates an overview of developments from A to B. It is slightly tiresome to use, but the result is very manageable and functional. Using the tool requires a bit of adaptation, but once you get into it, it is very efficient.

Quizlet is a tool for creating interactive flashcards with definitions, images and videos. These cards can be used as a basis for quizzes or as subject-related reference sources.

Worth considering

Which service is best suited for the type of overview you wish to create? Many different tools can help create overview, but they are suitable for different tasks (read more under “tools” on this page). You should therefore make it clear to yourself and your students why you are using the selected tool, and what the purpose of the activity is.    


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Activities under development

Padlet provides visual overview of the themes of the course.


Please contact the editors at AU Educate if you have any questions about the content of the platform or if you need consultation on your teaching from one of the many skilled professionals at the Centre for Educational Development

The content on this page is developed by Pernille Risør Elving, scientific assistant at the Center for Teaching Development and Digital Media.